A few days ago, I posted on Harold Doherty and asshattery (thanks to Clay and Corina for deciding that, although to be fair, we'd have to ask if he ated asses, don't you think?), and I promised to deal with it. I don't like to call names without backing up why a person merits that name, and asshat is pretty strong. Of course, if you're familiar with Doherty, you don't really need this confirming info. You already knew it. Apparently, he has been for years. Kev writes nearly three years ago about Doherty and Doherty's tendency to equate anyone who views autism and its treatment differently than he does as people who don't want to help their children, don't care about their children.
Well, it's nice to know it's not new tripe, then, because he's still at it.
A friend wrote a note on facebook and tagged several people, asking about how parents could not want a cure for their autistic children and how autistic adults could not want one. She wanted to know if this was true.
I'm including in full the interaction below with Phil Schwarz's permission (I haven't heard back from the friend who posted the note, so I have not quoted her, and to be honest, I didn't really feel the need to ask Doherty if I could use his text-- picture the message:
You were recently an asshat on a facebook note. I'd like to use said asshattery to show that you are indeed an asshat on my blog, Ya mind?).
I think the exchange demonstrates without any need for commentary what a jerk with a reading comprehension problem (and a victim mentality) that Doherty is. And, yes, I know that most of you are already well aware of that.
To be fair, I am sure he loves his son. I'm sure, as well, all these parents who do hairbrained treatments over on the anti-vaccine side also love their children. Love ain't got nothing to do with it it. I am also aware that sometimes an asshat is just an asshat.
Kim Wombles: Cure is a word that has negative undertones to some people. There are autistic individuals and their family members who see autism as a neurological difference, not a defect to be removed. They see people as a rainbow; diverse and deserving of respect as they are. Some twist this to mean not helping people with disabilities. This is not true.
My son turns 20 this month. He will not be able to live independently or work in more than a sheltered workshop. He will remain at home with his father and I for the longterm. He is a happy, healthy young man who has a good life, one that he takes great pleasure in. He does not need to be cured. He needs support, he needs a way to be of help (which we have found) and he needs respect. He has these things. Would I like to see him marry some day and do all the things most parents want? Yes. But my wants are not more important than his.
Wanting a cure for him, would for me, be tantamount to saying I do not honor him for who he is and what he has accomplished. It would diminish him. It would disrespect him, and I will not do that. That doesn't mean we don't work hard on improving his skill sets, at giving him the tools he needs to navigate the world.
December 5 at 11:11pm ·
Phil Schwarz: The whole "cure" debate fails to recognize a key distinction: the distinction between autism per se (that is, autistic ways of thinking, feeling, sensing, and emoting) and *handicap concomitant with autism*.
I don't think *anybody* in their right mind is against mitigation of the latter, wherever possible. For "pro-cure" participants in this debate to claim that their opponents take such a position is dishonest.
The real constructive way forward, is to work to mitigate *handicap concomitant with autism* -- however severe -- while recognizing that autistic ways of thinking, feeling, sensing and emoting are valid and valuable.
Sun at 2:27am
Harold L Doherty: Kim you say that wanting a cure for your son, would for you, be tantamount to saying you do not honor him for who he is and what he has accomplished. That same logic could be applied to any disorder or disability of any type. Many parents of severely autistic children, including me, do not share your view. I want my son to live the fullest and richest life he can and if a cure becomes available I would want him to have that cure.
I have seen severely autistic adults living in institutional care here in New Brunswick Canada. I know some have been residing on hospital wards. I have seen self injury and I know what the pediatric tertiary care autism team has had to deal with including very serious self injury and self starvation.
Feel good, autism is beautiful nonsense makes some parents and professionals including some tagged on this comment feel better themselves. It may also help some persons with Aspergers and high functioning autism disorders feel better about themselves but it does nothing, absolutely nothing, to help those who need it most, the severely autistic.
Phil Schwartz distinction is an artificial distinction which does not acknowledged the reality of autism as faced by many with severe autistic disorder. For Mr. Schwartz the cognitive impairment that marks the lives of so many with severe Autistic Disorder is not really part of autism. That is a view which is intellectually dishonest. It is a device of convenience offered up by those who seek to portray autism simply as a different way of thinking without acknowledging the impairments of thinking, communicating and interacting with the world that accompany autism disorders.
Why do so many people, even high functioning persons with autism or Aspergers, have a diagnosis in the first place? Because of their inability to fully function in the world. That is not just a difference that is an impairment, a disability.
Most parents want their children to overcome their disabilities and live fuller lives. Those who don't should re-examine their priorities and values.
Sun at 9:53am ·
Kim Wombles: Thanks, Harold, for proving my point entirely.
Sun at 9:57am ·
Phil Schwarz: Harold, you have demonstrated your continued dishonesty again here. You claim that I do not consider "the cognitive impairment that marks the lives of so many with severe Autistic Disorder to be really part of autism". That is false. I have always said that the handicaps concomitant with autism are very real and need to be mitigated. The fact that there are other, non-disabling aspects of autism that do not need to be eradicated, does not negate the need to mitigate the handicaps.
So there is absolutely nothing artificial or dishonest about the distinction I make. The only dishonesty present is the false claims you make in reaction.
Sun at 4:41pm ·
Harold L Doherty: Mr Schwartz there is nothing remotely dishonest in what I said. Your resort to such an allegation discredits you.
You distinguished between autism "per se" and "handicap concomitant with autism". That is the line always drawn to make the cognitive disabilities seem not to be a feature of autism. Save your insults for someone who might be impressed by that type of rhetoric.
For you and for Kim Wombles I ask you both to look at the National Post headline today about the missing 7 year old autistic boy lost today during in snowy weather in next door Nova Scotia.
I have blogged several times about almost losing my son when he wandered off into busy traffic while I was tied up on a business call. I take note ever since then of the many stories of autistic children who suffer horrible fates by wandering off into traffic, or drown in swimming pools, or get lost in the woods. These are realities that face many severely autistic children and for which parents have few means to protect them. Parents who truly love their children recognized and try to deal with those realities. We do not indulge in feel good ideology that makes us feel better at the expense of our children.
Sun at 5:52pm ·
Kim Wombles: Thanks, Harold, for the insulting insinuation that anyone who disagrees with you must not love his or her child.You have no idea of the severity of my oldest's autism and what my husband and I (and our son) have dealt with over the last two decades.
You are arrogant, presumptive, and close-minded. I love all three of my children, all of whom are on the spectrum, and I have worked hard with them to help them achieve their potential. It is they who have worked the hardest, though.
I said the word cure had negative undertones and that those, obviously like you, twist that to mean we do not mean to help, assist, support and better the lives of our children, to remove the barriers that stand in their way of having good, satisfying lives. You and others like you just happen to be one of those barriers.
But, hey, the nice thing is your sanctimonious and belligerent asshat-ery again proves nicely what my original post says. Thanks. Again, seriously presumptuous behavior on your part. "Feel good ideology at the expense of our children," my rather ample behind.
Sun at 6:23pm ·
Phil Schwarz: What you said is patently dishonest. I do not consider the handicaps concomitant with autism not to be a feature of autism, or not real, or ignorable, or any of the other things you have falsely claimed I say over the years.
I particularly don't understand why you so stridently reject the opportunity to work together on those things on which you *are* in agreement with those of us who question the wisdom of eradicating the non-disabling features of autism.
Situations like that described in the National Post article you linked to are *very* real and require a lot of concerted effort to avoid and prevent.
This does not alter my argument one bit though.
This is not about some sort of pie-in-the-sky "feel good" dismissal of the very real handicaps faced by so many autistic people and their families. To claim that I advocate so is patently dishonest.
Sun at 6:25pm ·Maybe after that, Doherty got bored with us. Who knows.
Urban Dictionary has some interesting definitions of asshat. :-)
My apologies to misspelling Phil's last name as Doherty did throughout. I've corrected my mistake, by left Doherty's intact since they are in quotes.